First, a little background. One of the social media colleagues I've had a chance to meet over the last couple of weeks was Greg Verdino. His recent blog post mentions his attendance at Virtual Worlds 2007 conference, in which he noted how few marketers and agency executives were present. So profound was it that David Armano made it his Thought of the Day.
Far from surprising Greg (or me), it reinforced what we both discussed when we met: the majority of marketers are trying to figure out ways t harness the field of new marketing strategies (blogging / podcasting / Second Life / social network) without the benefit of actually using the technologies. When did this - giving advice on something you don't understand - become the hallmark of a successful marketer?
Think about it for a minute: would an agency exec work on a television commercial without ever having seen one? Would any good creative director design a print ad without looking through a magazine to see what the surrounding material is like? Not on your life. Yet they throw the social media terms around as if they just represent another channel.
If you've ever read the seminal book Ogilvy on Advertising, you'll know that David Ogilvy made two very important points in the book - points that defined his career:
- Research is crucial. Understand the client, understand their customer and what motivates them. This was so important that he named himself Research Director at his agency.
- Live the brand. It didn't matter if the client was Rolls Royce, Schweppes or Sears, Ogilvy always bought his clients' products and experienced them just as any customer would, which made him much more effective when he wrote about them.
While social media is considered as just another facet to an integrated marketing program (and rightfully so), it's a more complex than most agency execs and marketers think. This is a conversation medium, one that requires understanding and finessing. You wouldn't show up at a sophisticated cocktail party dressed poorly and proceed to interrupt a conversation, grab a handful of hors d'oeuvres and smash your face down in the punch bowl, would you?
Well that's the equivalent of a marketer inexperienced in the field of new marketing / social media showing up to Second Life, starting a blog, etc. without having taken the time to participate in and understand the space.